This article will probably be controversial. I know that there are many women and men out there who have been hurt terribly by their partner’s infidelity. But something has to change with the way we do marriage. Let’s get exploring.
I belong to an online forum of expat wives. The way it works is that one wife posts a question, and the other wives, using their collective knowledge and wisdom, happily provide answers, advice and opinions. Most questions are pretty mundane – where to buy the best organic produce, where to go for a group dinner, best holiday tips, etc.
And then, every once in a while, an anonymous question reaches the admin of the page and is posted.
A question posted recently really got me thinking. Here’s the long and the short. A wife had discovered that her husband, who travels very frequently for business had been involved in an extra-marital affair. She was feeling shocked and upset, and had reached out to the wives for advice.
What flowed in the comments section were over 200 strong and angry responses from the forum. The overwhelming majority were calling for his head. Get rid of him, take him for all he’s worth, what a pig, here are my divorce lawyer’s details, get the hell out of and take the children that’ll serve him right, the bastard.
I was quite frankly was taken aback by the anger and one-sided perspective. Not one rational response was offered, recommending that the couple attend counselling to see if there were deeper reasons why intimacy had left the marriage. The comments were unanimous in their total, venomous rage.
After reading the comments, I could only conclude that the overwhelming majority of these women would end their marriage instantly based on their partner being unfaithful.
We do not live in little villages anymore. We are all wired into global online communities. We work with other people. We travel and meet people. Chances are over the period of our marriages, we are going to meet someone who we connect with in a different way from our spouse. That’s the thing with attraction. It is chemical.
I wondered whether the divorce rate may be as high as it is because we have been led to believe that we can not be attracted to other people through the course of our marriage. Are we having grown up conversations with our partners about different ways to navigate our long term relationship and desires, so we can sustain a 40-50 year companionship?
Leading marriage therapist, Esther Perel, puts a fascinating spin on the idea of a two-stage marriage, saying that the total breakdown of trust arising from a betrayal, can actually be the start of new marriage with your spouse – a second stage, which is richer and more emotionally fulfilling than the first stage ie the one that took the couple to the brink of divorce.
Which brings me to the idea of sexual freedom within marriages. What if finding an additional person to have sex with actually enhances the sexual energy and improves marital relations with your spouse? Maybe this person is providing you with something your spouse does not wish to provide or cannot provide? If you are being a loving and caring partner to your spouse when you are together at home, why is it a bad thing? Would open marriages with mutually agreed rules lower the divorce rate?
Or would the divorce rate drop if we all became Swingers?
Swingers. The very word conjures up images of our parent’s generation, ripping off their kaftans and jumping into a Jacuzzi with a bunch of friends.
These days, swinging is referred to as The Lifestyle. And you know what, it’s an interesting way to live. The basic premise is that couples make a decision to explore their sexual desires and boundaries together as a couple. They don’t go behind their partners’ backs and cheat. They meet other like-minded couples or individuals and together engage in sexual acts that, as a couple, they wish to explore. They do this as a couple every time. They protect each other and are totally turned on seeing their spouse being turned on by someone else. They practice safe sex and know what they will or will not do. As a couple, they are empowering themselves to have sex with other people, so as to enrich their own relationship.
From the outside you’d never know. Swingers are just regular people like you and me, holding down jobs or running their own businesses. They have kids. They have responsibilities. But they are removing the main catalyst of modern day divorce: Cheating. Swingers go about their daily marriages and sex life at home, but they also decide to go out and play with other people, together. Why is this a bad thing? It isn’t. Even though it might not be what you choose.
Without a doubt, the only hope of long-term success in a relationship is communication. It requires daily effort and when crises hit, it requires professional marriage counselling. The statistics on divorce reveal that either the daily required effort is not being made and communication is simply not happening, or the entrenched belief that “it’s monogamy or the highway” is here to stay, with all the consequences that go with it.
I can hear my closest girlfriend whisper in my ear,
“Can’t we just start a women-only commune. Just us, and the kids.”
Now, this is definitely an idea worth exploring! Who’s in?